Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who leaked documents about U.S. surveillance policies, told the Washington Post in an interview published Tuesday, "in terms of personal satisfaction, the mission's already accomplished. I already won."
In the interview, Snowden claimed that his reason for disclosing the extent of the widespread snooping by the National Security Agency was to assist journalists in revealing the government's growing collection of internet and phone records.
"As soon as the journalists were able to work, everything that I had been trying to do was validated," Snowden said. "Because, remember, I didn't want to change society. I wanted to give society a chance to determine if it should change itself."
Snowden sparked controversy in June when he leaked documents to the Washington Post and Britain's Guardian newspaper about the U.S. government's surveillance habits of its own citizens and prominent leaders of allied nations.
Though Snowden's actions have been described as treasonous by numerous government officials including House Intelligence Committee chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., the information he disclosed has forced the government to re-evaluate its surveillance activity.
Last week in his press conference President Obama said that he would look into concerns over some of the NSA's collection of Americans' phone records, USA Today reported. A presidential review panel has recommended sweeping changes to the program and Obama has said he will respond to those suggestions in January.
Snowden told the Post that he believed it was his duty to come forward with this information because "they elected me."
"[Senate Intelligence Committee Chair] Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.,) elected me when she asked softball questions ... Mike Rogers elected me when he kept these programs hidden. . . The FISA court elected me when they decided to legislate from the bench on things that were far beyond the mandate of what that court was ever intended to do," Snowden said.
"The system failed comprehensively, and each level of oversight, each level of responsibility that should have addressed this, abdicated their responsibility."
Despite Snowden's insistence that he is "not trying to bring down the NSA," U.S. officials still want Snowden taken into custody.
"Mr. Snowden faces felony charges here in the United States and should be returned to the U.S. as soon as possible, where he will be afforded due process and all the protections of our criminal justice system," White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden told the Associated Press.
Though Snowden has temporarily been granted asylum from the U.S. in Russia, he is looking for a permanent home. Just last week Snowden published an "Open Letter to the Brazilian People" offering to help the Brazilian government probe into NSA spying on Brazilians in exchange for a permanent home, Reuters News Agency reports.
"I have expressed my willingness to assist wherever appropriate and lawful, but unfortunately the United States government has worked very hard to limit my ability to do so," the letter said.
But Folha de S.Paulo newspaper said that government officials told it they had no intention of granting asylum to Snowden.